Girls Trip To The Land Of Enchantment–Santa Fe, New Mexico

Going on a girls trip can be one of the best experiences, or it can be one of the worst ones that you can have. I have been very lucky, each time I have had a great time. Maybe it’s the girls I go with–they pick out amazing places, great hotels, fun activities, wonderful food and much more. Santa Fe, New Mexico did not disappoint even with the chilly rain on the first night there. My youngest daughter planned a great getaway.

We stayed at the Hotel Santa Fe, Hacienda & Spa which we both loved from the moment we arrived. It had that beautiful southwestern look. that I absolutely love. It is not a large hotel which made it a friendly place, from the front desk, to the bartender, hostess and beyond. Our room was comfortable with windows we wanted to be able to open (next time).

We sat in the lounge with its hugh wonderful fireplace which made it easy to talk with others as we all enjoyed the feel and smell of it. Nobody wanted to leave.

Our only full day started early with me going to have coffee and learn about the history of Sante Fe, New Mexico. The talk was given by Tours U Design with Nat Shipman leading the discussion. I am a history buff so this was right up my alley. They offered a tour, but I had other plans to see the city with my daughter.

The hotel runs shuttles on request that take you to the downtown area of Santa Fe where they dropped us at the Niman Gallery and the True West Gallery. There are so many great galleries in Santa Fe that it kind of makes it hard to pay and go into a museum. There were great paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more. Photos were allowed in some, but not others. Almost every weekend there is some sort of show in the downtown area, and this weekend it was the lowriders which my daughter loved. I even got into it. You can purchase native american jewelry from the locals while listening to local bands in the park. Santa Fe can be a walking place.

The choice of restaraunts is outstanding, you name it they have it except seafood. We couldn’t find a recommendation on one. There was a concensus that we try authentic New Mexico Food at Tomasito’s on Friday night. It was amazing, and we got there just in time. As we were leaving the line was out of the door in the rain. Lunch the next day was at this cute place called La Casa Sena that on my only other visit to Santa Fe my husband and I had visited. Since I love to sit outside it was perfect. The salads were yummy. Even with all of the walking we did during the day, our dinner was lite at a quaint Italian place called Andiamo. Everything looked great, but we settled for appetizers and even then we walked back to the hotel trying to walk off calories.

We did not have the opportunity to go to Ten Thousand Waves Spa (I hear they have a restaraunt now). This place is amazing, it is beautiful and the staff in fantastic. I had the opportunity to visit it a couple of years ago. You can even get your own personal hot tub. It has me spoiled, I can’t do the Asian spas anymore–I’ve had the best. Once you have gone to Ten Thousand Waves you can never go back to the chain spas.

On the way to Albuquerque to catch our flight, they even sent us off with a hot air balloon show.

In less than 36 hours Santa Fe, New Mexico proved to be enchanting. It made for a great girls weekend. As women of a certain age, we keep flying high and reaching for the sky because we know “thisisy(our)bestyear”.

Tea and Talk Discussion–Becoming by Michelle Obama

Join “thisisyourbestyear” on Thursday, May 23 at 6:30 pm at Leaves Tea and Book Shop for a sip of tea and great conversation of the Michelle Obama book–“Becoming”.

We will sip tea and have a great discussion of this important and honest story of the the former First Lady of the United States of America. Join us for an intellectual, though-provoking, honest, fun and real conversation about what we can understand, feel, and learn from this powerful book with some great networking too.

Registration is required. Tickets are free for this event. Go to Eventbrite and register.

Leaves Tea and Book Shop @ 120 St. Louis #101, Fort Worth, TX 76104

Remember “thisisyourbestyear” let’s relax and have great conversation while we sip great tasting tea.

Cause She’s Not In The History Books

We at “thisisyourbestyear” take this time to honor those that should be in the history books, but are not. Their accomplishments, sacrifices and more all have to be researched and only given one month of the year recognition.

*Since we are a blog for and about women of a certain age, we chose this year to highlight women in American History who are Black. There were so many that it was difficult to narrow it down to one person, but we did. Her story is inspiring.

We are featuring someone that none of us really knew about, we are featuring Mabel Fairbanks who was a figure skater. Mabel was fascinated by skating when she saw a movie featuring then skating sensation Sonja Henie. As luck would have it she found a pair of skates in a pawn shop, and talked the owner down on the price. After purchasing the skates which were two sizes too big, she stuffed cotton in the toes and taught herself to skate. She would go to Central Park to skate in competitions making 6.0’s, but could not join a club because of her race. Therefore, she could not participate in any other competitions or practice at any rink.

She was persistent and eventually one skating rink allowed her to come in after the rink closed to practice. This story is about more than her finally finding her way outside the United States to skate, it’s about Mabel’s legacy.

She may not have gone to any competions because no club would take her, but she was finally able to skate in the Follies in the states, then barred from seeing her shero Sonja Henie by Sonja herself. Her legacy has come to the surface and lives on. Mabel became a coach. Not just a coach, but a coach of champions.

She is credited with helping the careers of US and world champions such as Scott Hamilton, Atoy Wilson, Tiffany Chin, and 1970s champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, whom she put together as a skating pair. She also coached Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist, in her early days, and also first paired her with champion Rudy Galindo.

She’s not in the history books, but she should be. Her strength gives us strength. Because of her, and people like her we can.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Black History is American History.

*Go to our Facebook page–thisisyourbestyear to see more Black women we honor during the month of February because they should be in the history books.

An Interview With Fort Worth’s Rare Diamond–Author Amara Russell

Fort Worth native, Amara Russell is the author of the much talked about novel “A Rare Diamond”. Even though this is her first novel to be published she is no stranger to writing.  Her love for writing has been evident to those around her since elementary school when her first article was published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It was our honor to have a great conversation with her.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading today?

Some of the people I enjoy reading are Priscilla Shirer. Her book “A Jewel in His Crown” is one of my favorites; it has brought me through a lot of things that were occurring in my life at the time. Another author that I like is Lysa Terkeurst.  Her book  “The Best Yes” is about making wise decisions when going through certain situations.

Who and what do you read just for fun? Also, what is a book that you have read more than once?

I love romance novels.  There is a book by Eric Jerome Dickey called “Friends and Lovers” about different relationships.  He adds a lot of humor to his books and I enjoy that. It’s a thick little novel, and I have read it several times.

Was “A Rare Diamond” the first manuscript that you finished?

It was the first manuscript that I finished.  It took me a year to write it.  I was laid off my job in 2015, and for the first couple of months, I spent my time trying to find employment. When I didn’t find anything I decided to use the time to do something that I liked–writing.  Writing helped to heal my stress. I put my frustrations into the manuscript.

Writing became my full-time job.  Every day when I woke up, I poured myself into writing.  It was something I loved to do.

Tell us about the inspiration for the novel–was any of it born out of personal experiences?

Actually, there are a lot of bits and pieces of the story that are related to my life, and things around me. I would visit coffee shops, relatives houses and observe activities that I added to the story.

When I found employment, I wasn’t able to put the time I needed into the writing of the book.  When I loss my mom I  was able to relate to Celeste, the main character in the book who loses her mom.  This event inspired me to get back to writing nonstop.

That’s interesting what you said about being able to relate to Celeste after the loss of your mother.  That’s something people tend to think they can relate to but can’t when they have not experienced that loss.  They know what to say, but they can’t relate.

Right, when I would express to people that I was still hurting they couldn’t understand because they had not experienced it, and until they do, they won’t understand.

I understand, and God will get you through it, but you never get over it, and it is never the same.  There is a void that is always going to be there.

Right.

Now Celeste is the main character in your novel.  Tell us a little about her.  I know that you said she loss her mother at 5.  Without giving away the story tell us a little bit more about her.

Celeste is witty, smart and beautiful.  She is courageous, and she doesn’t bite her tongue about anything, but she says what she means in a subtle way.  She takes her characteristics from her mother who was filled with integrity.  Her mother could walk into a room and capture everyone’s attention.  Celeste picked up a lot of those qualities.

The story is about her life from the age of 5 to 25. She is a young woman trying to find her way, her identity without her mom.

What other characters in the novel play a pivotal role?

Derrick is a childhood friend of Celeste who grew up in the neighborhood.  Really he was her brother’s friend first.  As they grew older they were able to relate because he had suffered the loss of his father at an early age, and he had older siblings who were all girls, and her older siblings were boys.

Another main character is her brother Craig. Celeste and Craig have a very close relationship.  She leans on him, and he leans on her in certain situations.  I would say that Derrick and Craig are two of my other main characters.

From some of the comments that we  have read people say that the book kept them on their toes until the very end.  So if we were going to the bookstore what two sections would we find “A Rare Diamond”?

Probably in the Faith-based section and also in the Romance section.

If you were to have “A Rare Diamond” made into a movie, who would you have to play the main characters?

Oh my God, I knew you would ask that, and I have those people written down (laughter).

It’s important because when people read a novel they picture certain people.  I have to read the book before I see the movie.  I remember going to see “Waiting to Exhale”, and none of those people were the people I pictured except Loretta Devine.  She had the sass that was in the book.  I met Walter Mosley and told him that I did not see Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins, and he said he didn’t either.  I told him I pictured a young Laurence Fishburne.  He told me when you sell the rights to your book, then the studio picks the actors.  So who do you have as Celeste?

For Celeste, there were two people. I had in my mind LeToya Luckett could play her or Keisha Knight Pulliam.

Oh, why those two?

The similarities when I envision my character, I see them as her. And then their personalities when I see them in films or on television.  Those personalities fit Celeste.

Ok, what about Derrick?

Derrick, the minute I started writing I don’t know why but I envisioned the actor Lance Gross.

Oh, okay, yes.  That’s a good one.  What about Craig?

Craig because he’s so hilarious–even when I was writing the novel I would crack up from some of the things he would say.  To me, I always said Mike Epps (laughter) .

Oh my God! (laughter).  He would be a wonderful big brother. 

Just to add one more, the mother because she is such an inspiration.  It’s like I didn’t want to kill her off at the beginning so I was kind of going back and forth, but Angela Bassett always came to mind when I was writing the story.

She would be good.  Even in her personal life, she seems to be into her family and her faith. You are going to have a hometown book signing.  Tell us about it.

The book signing will be downtown Fort Worth at the Marie Antoinette Parfumiere and Spa which is located at 101 West 2nd directly across from the Worthington Hotel.  It will be on Saturday, February 10 from 3 to 5.  A pre Valentine event.

Are you working on a sequel or another novel?

I am actually working on a trilogy to “A Rare Diamond”, I’m going to break it up into three parts.

That will be nice.

Well, we thank you for your time.  We’ll see you at your book signing.

Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

 

“A Rare Diamond” can be purchased at Amazon, the Barnes and Noble website or on www.nspired2write247.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schedule Your Health Exams

We’ve always talked about taking care of ourselves, but most of the time it is just that–talk.  We as women of a certain age fail to schedule our yearly exams.  The ones that we should do at least yearly unless the doctor tells us to do something differently. How we fail to schedule our exams is a mystery to me–we are master schedulers.

My girlfriend Avis always schedules all of her exams close to her birthday–she says that way she will always remember. I do put mine on my phone calendar, plus my doctors are really good about reminding me. I never miss!

There are several exams that should be done yearly.

  • Mammogram–the one that most people know about is a screening mammogram.  This is a low dose x-ray of the breast from different angles. Some people with dense breast, women of a certain age or for other reasons may also be advised to do a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound of the breast.  .
  • Pelvic Exam and Pap–no you are really never too mature to have this exam. It is done to determine precancerous or cancer of the cervix.
  • Step on the scale–close your eyes and wish away the pounds. Unwanted pounds can lead to deadly illnesses.
  • Blood pressure–even if your blood pressure has risen, you can lower it without medication. It can be a silent killer.

There are other exams that you should do less frequently unless your doctor suggest yearly. Here are a few:

  • Hearing test–with the noise of the world it is surprising we don’t need one every year.
  • Eye exam–as we age our eyes do get tired, and we may need reading glasses or develop cataracts.
  • I’m sure there are other exams that some of us do such as dental exams and checking cholesterol.

As women of a certain age, we have to remember that it is all about us.  All of us want to live long lives, but we also want to be in the best health possible.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–schedule your yearly health appointments just like you schedule that nail appointment.

 

Meeting Paulette Who Is Walking Across America Topless

I am not easily impressed by celebrities, or at least I don’t think I am. In my mind, I think that celebrities and those that are famous are just like us.  There are a few people that I am in awe of though.  One of them is a beautiful woman of a certain age that I wrote about.

I found her on Facebook and begin reading about her.  I inboxed her, she wrote back, and this continued on for almost a month.  We then talked on the phone a few times, and we then decided to do a phone interview.  It was a great experience.  One that has inspired many.

When Paulette talked about her faith in God, her journey with breast cancer and her children, her story came alive to me.  If you have not read her story, please go to:  http://thisisyourbestyear.com/2015/10/10/breast-cancer-awareness-prayers-for-paulette-and-her-8-children/ to read about her amazing journey.

I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans where she makes her home.  We arranged a day and time to meet.  She is as amazing in person as she was on the phone.  Her warm and beautiful smile just warmed my heart. Our conversation was like we had known each other for many years, it was as easy as Sunday morning.

From the smile on my face, you can see how excited I was to meet the wonderful, inspirational Paulette Leaphart. Her spirit, her love of life, her love of family, but most of all her faith in God is contagious.

Paulette is training to do a 1,000 mile walking journey from Biloxi, Mississippi to Washington, D. C. while being filmed along the way. Paulette will be topless to show the scars of breast cancer.  She will start her walk on April 30.  Her walk/movie is named “The Scar Story”.  I invite you to take a few minutes to look at the trailer.  It will amaze and inspire you. You will see the reason Paulette will walk topless.  The message is powerful. The link to the trailer is below.  Click on the link and be amazed, inspired and more.

http://www.thescarstory.com/video

You can follow Paulette’s 1,000 mile journey on her Facebook Page–Prayers for Paulette 8 Children. There will be a few surprise walkers that will accompany her along the way.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–make new friends, they bring warmth to your heart.

 

Spring Break–Take A Break

Every time women of a certain age talk about Spring Break, we automatically think of Spring Cleaning.  We think of putting away winter clothing, changing the comforter, clearing out the pantry, deep cleaning this and that.  Why do we do that?  Is there an unwritten rule that we have to use our time away from the office working while everyone else is enjoying their time off?  What’s to keep us from doing the Spring Cleaning a little at a time after Spring Break?  This year I decided to do just that.

When I left work on the Friday before Spring Break, I went home and did my weekend cleaning that night–I was determined that this would be my Spring Break.  There would be no deep cleaning this Spring Break.  There would be the day to day cleaning, but nothing that would take all day and/or all week.

Here is my week of during Spring Break. What was yours like?

  • Sunday–great church service at Carter Metropolitan CME Church, and then dinner with my husband and our youngest daughter.  Then I did a movie (Creed) in my pajamas with my husband and popcorn and wine.
  • Monday–massage at Perfect Touch with Katie that made me want to lay there for a couple of hours.  Went walking with my sorority sister and made my steps then coffee at Starbucks afterwards. Then I decided to make homemade peanut butter cookies.  The kitchen was smelling good.  We ate them while we watched the movie again (it was rented for 2 days).
  • Tuesday–my guilty pleasure of a facial.  I absolutely love getting facials especially at my favorite place Ageless Perfection Skincare.  Miss Ruby is the best. Started reading “Natchez Burning” by Greg Iles for a book club I just joined. It is a very exciting read.
  • Wednesday–my best friend since second grade and I went to the Amon Carter Musuem of American Art to check out their latest exhibition–American Epics (Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood).  Yes, it is very good and educational.  Then we were off to West 7th Street to have lunch outside because the weather was just perfect.  We tried our tastebuds at Mash’d, a place we had never gone to.  The best lemonade bar none.  I like mine tart, my friend likes hers sweet, we were both happy. Then my daughter cancelled our walk, but I went anyway–got my steps in.
  • Thursday–manicure and pedicure at Zizi’s.  Even decided to have a glass of wine while I was getting serviced.
  • Friday–going to a networking event for women sponsored by the women’s division of the Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce.  Got my TABC certification so that I can volunteer for the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival.
  • Saturday–meeting with volunteer coordinator for Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival to get my assignment.  Then on to Fair Park to cover BeautyCon so that I can report about it to you, and see what they have for women of a certain age.

I started each morning with my prayers and coffee in my pj’s, and ended each night with wine and prayers in my pj’s. The house is still clean, yes the sweaters still need to go to the cleaners and be put away (well maybe, this is Texas weather). I’ll just drop them off on my way to work after Spring Break.

Spring Break is not for Spring Cleaning, it is for taking a Break during the Spring.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–you can clean next week.

Go Red–Your Heart Depends On It

This post was written by C Y Cooper.

Remember that heart disease kills more women each year than breast cancer, and that our symptoms are so different than those of men.

A sea of RED took over the Hilton Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas recently for the 2016 Tarrant County GO RED For Women Luncheon.  The annual fund-raising event, by the American Heart Association of Tarrant County, drew a large crowd of supporters that focuses on improving the heart health of women in the surrounding area.

It’s no secret that Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America.  It affects more women than men and is more deadly that ALL forms of cancer combined.  So, what does it mean to GO RED FOR WOMEN.  It’s about making women’s health the No. 1 priority, getting the word out to every single female in this country about their risk of heart disease and stroke.

(G)et your numbers—–Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.

(O)wn your lifestyle—–Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy.  It’s up to YOU.  No one can do it for you.

(R)ealize your risk—–We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills one (1) in three (3) women.

(E)ducate your family—–Make healthy food choices for you and your family. Teach your children/grandchildren that it’s important to stay active.

(D)on’t be silent—–Tell every woman you know that heart disease is our No. 1 Killer.

The Keynote Speaker for this year’s luncheon was Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, a nationally recognized expert in the field of sex and gender-based medicine and the Founding Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health.  Dr. Jenkins spoke on how and why women ignore the symptoms they may be suffering from heart disease and what can be done in treating, preventing and even ending the disease.  Besides Dr. Jenkins, the audience heard from Elissa Taylor, a wife and mother of three (3), who survived a heart attack while in her 30s.

Before the luncheon attendees had the opportunity to participate in Health Screenings, Cooking Demonstrations, Hands Only CPR presented by the City of Fort Worth Fire Department and a Silent Auction.  CBS 11 News Anchor Kaley O’Kelley served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the luncheon.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–take care of yourself!

The Stimulating Donna Brazile

20160225_190253Some people know how to work a room, but most don’t know how to work a room with facts, humility, laughter and everything in between.  Well they should meet Ms. Donna Brazile–she knows how to work not only a room, but an auditorium filled to the rafters during the Maverick Speakers Series at the University of Texas Arlington.

She entered the room on the heels of being introduced by her friend, Texas State Senator, 20160225_193322Royce West.  Ms. Brazile showcased her southern roots by first thanking the people of Texas for all they did for the people of New Orleans who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  This thank you set the tone of her talk.  This woman who has talked with all kinds of people–from the man on the street to the president of the United States (lots of presidents) thanked us for doing something we were supposed to do.

Then she preceded to teach us a lesson about politics with laughter, and we all know that if this years elections were not so serious, they would be the best comedy shows  around. Even when she talked of some candidates, she did so without a mean bone in her body.

But my favorite time was when the audience was given an opportunity to ask questions.  This was when the teacher came out of Donna Brazile. The people asking questions were the millennials, who were looking for answers. Ms. Brazile gave them her take on topics, her wisdom, her encouragement and her hope for them. She talked with them, laughed with them, and in her typical warm way even scolded them about their duty to vote.

20160225_193940 (3)

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, and as Ms. Brazile stated–VOTE!

To learn more about the University of Texas Arlington’s Maverick Speakers Series please go to the University of Texas Arlington website and type in the words Maverick Speakers Series.  These events are free to the public–registration is required.  They will “stimulate your mind”.